Spring is a wonderful time of the year to go outside to explore all the changes that are taking place and watch everything come to life after the winter. I’m once again teaming up with a few of my fellow “Woodsy Mamas” to give you some great ideas for things to do and look out for while you’re taking the kids on a nature walk!
If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you already may know that I’m a big fan of play-based, child-led learning. That means that our nature walks are rarely planned in advance and usually revolve around whatever captures my girls’ interest at the time. And I’ve found that nature is never short on teachable moments. Recently, we did a spontaneous Spring Nature Study involving a dead deer, which turned out to be a great learning tool and conversation starter.
Last weekend, we set out to the woods and the girls immediately noticed that an abundance of wildflowers had started to bloom, covering the whole forest floor with tiny white spots. Previous years, I’ve just walked through them without paying much attention, but since one of my goals for 2014 was for us to learn to identify at least three wildflowers, I figured this could be a good time to do it. Equipped with my smartphone camera we started documenting the flowers and were surprised to find not one or two but six different types of wildflowers – all white.
After we got back we started searching the web for wildflower identification guides and were immediately able to identify four out of the six flowers using the searchable database on MyWildflowers.com. That left two unidentified, but I got some leads from Flower Finder for Indiana Wildflowers and Wildflowers of the United States, which lists the various native plant societies in each state. And thanks to my readers I was able to name the last two as well!
If you’re interested in learning more about native plants and wildflowers, doing online searches is a good place to start, but the best tool will probably still be a real field guide for your state or country, since many flowers online are misidentified. I’m planning to invest in one shortly, as it will make it much easier for the girls to participate in the “detective work” of trying to figure out what the flowers are called. In the meantime, we’ll try to memorize the names of the flowers we’ve found so far. We’ll do this for two reasons: partly because A) I think it’s neat to know the real name of a flower rather than constantly referring to it as “that little white flower” and B) because I think that the more our children know about nature and wildlife, the more likely they will be to want to protect it.
For more spring nature walk ideas, make sure to check out these posts as well:
Mommy Loves Trees: Learning about spring trees
How Wee Learn: Connecting with Nature with a Spring Nature Walk